"It Was Great To See A Friend From The Past"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012

There was a time when I did not like the study of history.

In my early grades, studying history had to do with memorizing dates and the names of events and presidents. It was not my cup of tea.

Later, I began to enjoy military history and primarily the struggle of European nations as they experienced revolutions and wars. I found it much more fascinating than U.S. history, and I eventually earned a master’s degree studying primarily German and Russian history. I even wanted to conquer Russian as a foreign language, although it never happened.

Besides the history of countries, I always enjoy reminiscing about my own family history, meaning my mom and dad, the house we grew up in and great friends that I will never forget.

While my short-term memory is now questionable, I can still remember people and events of my childhood in great detail. For example, I remember how we would line up for lunch or a bathroom break at school. The nuns made sure we always filed out in alphabetical order. First in line was James Adams, then Patricia Bell, David Dark, Kathleen Devolder. ... I can still picture their faces and I remember interactions with each of them.

I also remember the children of my neighborhood, the ones with whom we would play baseball and football, build forts, hunt frogs and ride bikes. Those sure were great times.

When I visited home a few weeks ago, I decided to stop at a store and visit Jeff, one of my best friends from childhood. My brother Robert said he had run into him some time back at a home improvement store, and Jeff had asked how I was doing.

So my wife and I stopped at his store.

There he was, immediately recognizable, 39 years after I had last laid eyes on him. We had a brief but enjoyable conversation.

We chatted about the good times we had playing baseball in the old neighborhood league, and things like that.

Most of my memories of childhood are just like that one — very enjoyable. But I also remember some of the pains of childhood, including the pain that I caused.

One time my oldest brother Robert, who we called Bobby back then, wanted to join in one of our baseball games. Usually, we were glad to have an extra guy to join our circle of players. But Bobby had not played with us all season. He was older and could hit the ball a lot farther than any of us. It was like inviting Miguel Cabrera to a company softball game.

We told Bobby he was too big to play. It would make the teams unfair.

And although he picked up a bat and took some practice swings, Bobby eventually gave up and went back home.

Later on, I felt sad that I had told someone they could not play baseball with us. I suspect Bobby no longer remembers that summer afternoon, but I still do. It haunts me to this day.

When it comes to the Thumb, I have almost no personal history. My wife is from Minden City and I’ve attended her family events here near Deckerville. I’ve also officiated high school soccer at Laker, USA and Caseville. But I don’t really have any old friends to look up.

That is not the case for most people here. I know many people here have deep roots and childhood friendships that continue to give meaning to their lives.

Others, like me, have come to the area later in life and are building new relationships.

I still like to remember the past. And I’m glad I stopped in to say hi to Jeff. I suspect he is too.




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